BA chief on Blair guest list for executive dinner

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The Independent Online
The chief executive of British Airways, Robert Ayling, is among a group of prominent businessmen who have regular dinners with Tony Blair, Labour confirmed last night, writes Fran Abrams.

The news comes as British Airways is embroiled in a row with its unions over plans to sell off large sections of its operation, expected to lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, and as it prepares for a battle with Brussels over its planned alliance with American Airlines. Although the Government has indicated its approval of the idea, the company may need the support of an incoming Labour government.

In an interview in The Independent today, the firm's chief executive says he joined Labour for a year when he was in his twenties but left because he was "horrified at the daft things that were discussed".

Labour says Mr Ayling is one of a number of company heads who meet Mr Blair to talk about economic and competitiveness policy. Others include Niall Fitzgerald, chairman of Unilever, and David Sainsbury, of the store chain.